Ultimate multi-ball drills
for advanced players
Please read the two articles below first before reading this and attempting these multi-ball drills.
Unorthodox & Advanced Strokes
& Attacking Side Spins
Most of the multi-balls you may have done thusfar focuses mostly on repetitive strokes against a single type of spin such as
“Looping against straight up top-spin” or “pushing against straight up back-spin” etc.
These drills are good as initial starting point and are still necessary but additional multi-ball training is required to simulate the actual spins during match-play.
During a match you are likely to encounter combination spins almost in all serves and varying amounts from 0% to 90% during rallies in a match. While even advanced players have to consciously think before acting upon an incoming combination spin, most professional players can react to these spins almost subconsciously. How do they do it ? Some are gifted and others have learned it by training hard to force their muscle memories to react without thinking much to such combination spins
Ok what do I mean by combination spins ? A combination spin is either
1. a combination top-spin with side-spin
2. A combination back-spin with side-spin
3. a combination top-spin with cork-screw-spin
4. A combination back-spin with cork-screw-spin
Since you can encounter combination spins for more than 50% of the match , it would only make sense to focus your multi-ball training against these combination spins as well.
The goal of these trainings of course is to recognize the direction side-spins & cork-screw spins when presented along with top-spin or back-spin and train yourself to act sub-consciously as much as possible, without having think much about incoming spin and increase your confidence level approaching that of a professional player and be able always either loop or flip your returns so as to seize the offensive advantage and rarely ever having to push the ball back regardless of how short or how long the incoming serve is. As a mix up you can throw it some push chops as your returns as long as they are vicious and / or extremely short (at least 3 or 4 bounces if allowed) on the receiver’s side.
A robot, if it can generate these kinds of spins, can be a very valuable tool for such a multi-ball drill. Since you will have to react by watching the ball only and which way it breaks , in addition to top or back-spin without having your opponent to watch to see what (s)he is doing.
Though this is seemingly quite advanced drill, mentally you can simplify the whole process and thus helping yourself to subconsciously loop balls that are breaking away or into your body. Regardless of whether you are a lefty or righty, to play a safe loop or flip return , assuming you are the receiver, if an incoming ball (regardless of from your opponent’s side-spin server or side-loop or side-chop or side-lob etc) is breaking away from your body, you want to contact the inside of the ball (this against most players’ natural instincts to contact the outside of the ball) and play it down the line (rather than cross-court). Conversely if a ball is breaking into your body you contact the outside of the ball and your return should be cross-court rather than down-the-line (this is the easier of the two as you can play it almost without thinking about the side-spin as you are almost playing a stroke that is comes naturally comes to you) .
Of course another level of difficulty is added when you are receiving no spin balls . You need to again sub-consciously know that these balls need to whacked dead on and not spun back
Last but definitely not the least is the most neglected but the most complained about aspect of table-tennis. This involves performing multi-ball drills against an actual combination racket but with the trainer using an one-color racket (meaning same color both sides preferably black & black because it makes it harder to read spins if based on looking at the opponent’s racket visually if attempted and forces the trainee to learn to read spins based on ball’s behavior only ). This also helps to prevent many young players from learning to read the spins based on bounce patterns rather than getting psychologically traumatized by long-pips and turning into a life-long hatemongers who focus more on making the opponents’ equipment an easy scapegoat & excuse for their own failures . The trainee should learn to understand the lack of spin when the logo can be read easily and existence of heavy spin when the logo cannot be read. (If the ITTF is complaining about lack of rallies due to this issue, they could help address this issue by making all balls to be soccer ball type with two colors so players can read spins better)
You repeat the same sets of multi-ball drills as described earlier creating combination spins but with the trainer using a one-color combination racket. The trainer plays the generates the same combination strokes as before but by randomly flipping the racket (not in any pre-determined order) and the trainee needs to attack (loop or flip) these serves or loops. The trainee needs to recognize that while an incoming chop serve from smooth side will be a chop but an exact looking serve from long-pips side will be actually slight top-spin and a top-spin serve coming from smooth rubber will have heavy top spin while an exact stroke executed by long-pips side will be a sinking dead ball and so on.
Robotic single spin ( straight top-spin or back-spin ) may still be required to a certain extent but have limited use in modern table-tennis where even many beginner level players can generate serves with vicious side-spins. Therefore it would only make more sense if a player even moves to drills against combination spins